Black Bean and Butternut Chili

Do you ever have to deal with picky eaters?  In my house it’s a struggle to get anyone to try anything new or venture beyond mac and cheese and pizza.  I find the easiest way to introduce something new is to sneak it into a soup or stew,  like in this black bean and butternut chili.

When my son saw me cutting up the squash he wanted to know what I was going to do with that crazy looking thing and when I told him it was going to be part of dinner he looked less than excited.  We have implemented a new house rule (at least as far as my son is concerned) that you must at least try something a few times before you can declare that you don’t like it.  I have to admit that having a husband with a limited palate can be difficult when you are trying to get your child to keep an open mind.  The list of foods that my husband won’t eat is too long to list here but at least he is learning not to make a face anymore when I serve something he doesn’t care for.

Luckily this was a real winner for everyone, and the butternut squash helps lighten it up and gives it a nice sweetness to balance all the spice.  It didn’t hurt that I served it with some homemade cornbread and honey butter, delicious.

You can easily make this a vegan chili just by omitting the beef and substituting some extra beans or 1/2 cup of bulgar at the beginning of cooking.  We also love to top our chili with some sliced avocado and greek yogurt or maybe even some sliced jalapenos if you dare.

Black Bean and Butternut Chili

Adapted from Cooking Light



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled


  •  Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl. Sprinkle beef with salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef.
  • Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 8 minutes until the onions are a deep golden brown. Add tomato paste, garlic, chipotle and spices; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook 2 minutes. Return beef to pan.
  • Stir in tomatoes and beans, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer gently for 1 hour. Add butternut squash, and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender. To serve top chili with a tablespoon of cotija and a few sprigs of cilantro.

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  • Meet Tina | Scaling Back Blog

    Self-taught cook, photographer.  You can usually find me at a farmers market dreaming up alternative recipes for my allergy prone family.

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